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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

December 5, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 163




Pat Marrin We are expecting a baby

By Pat Marrin, editor of Celebration

Today's Reading: Psalm 27: I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.

We are expecting a baby. The fact that this baby will arrive next door does not diminish the shared joy in our small close-knit neighborhood. Everyone on this end of the block and across the street knows that almost-two-year-old Emerson is expecting a baby sister or brother any day now. I wave to her parents from our kitchen window facing theirs across the narrow driveway between our houses. They are often up as early as I am, and they hand-sign that it has been another uneventful night, except for "Emme," who likes to rise early, sensing the expectation in the air.

Other Today's Takes by Pat Marrin
Dec. 4, 2003 Facing the storm head-on
Dec. 3, 2003 Just one pope away from ...
Dec. 2, 2003 'Hope is the thing with feathers'
Dec. 1, 2003 Peace: the minimum requirement
Oct. 31, 2003 Freely chosen reality
Oct. 30, 2003 The burden of servant leadership
Oct. 29, 2003 Entering by the narrow gate
Oct. 28, 2003 Gracious Ignatius
It is an event made for the season, a tangible reminder of what Advent and Christmas are all about. A weary, anxious world, shorter days, colder nights; we need good news, a fresh start. A child is coming. We all feel fragile, a bit more prayerful, since these are matters beyond our control, the greatest mystery we know. Who will this child be? How will our lives be changed? It happens all the time, but when it is happening to you, nothing is routine. Emme arrived in the ice storm of January 2002, spent her first weeks with friends outside the disaster zone of downed power lines and broken trees while we waited for electricity to be restored. She doesn't remember any of this, but we know how adversity made her all the more special and welcome. Cold, cruel world, beautiful child.

At St. James Church, my parish here in Kansas City, we are exploring spiritual pregnancy in our adult formation group. We have welcomed God's Word into our lives this Advent, and we clearly expect that God has conceived something wonderful for our small mid-town faith community. A new birth of hope is what we are asking for this Christmas. It is fitting for us to expect this of God. God is certainly expecting a great deal of us. We have named our three sessions first, second and third trimesters. Our discussions are rich with memories of those first doctor visits, sharing the news of being pregnant, rehearsing the hospital run, mountain roads and coal trains to make it more interesting, the sadness of miscarriage, the miracle of birth. On any scale, it is still the greatest story ever told.

Mary is our guide and midwife, the perfect model of Christian development and discipleship. She said yes to the Spirit, conceived, carried and gave birth to the Word of God in the world. Can we accept our own baptisms as the moment of conception, our lives as the gestation of the Christ within each of us, our surrender to the community and to the world in service as our rebirth?

Pregnancy and birth are filled with tender joy, terrible anxiety and vulnerability, a dream fraught with risk and danger. Jesus uses the image of a woman in childbirth to describe his own death and resurrection, to tell his disciples what they will have to go through to enter the reign of God. In three short trimesters, we will enter this imagery to articulate our personal expectations of God during Advent, and to offer St. James as the womb from which new hope will be born for all of us.

We are expecting a baby, all of us. Pray for the safe arrival of Emme's little brother or sister. Pray for every pregnant woman, especially those caught in the terror of war, those living in refugee camps, in poverty, in isolation, in fear and rejection. Pray for the children, especially those thousands who will slip through our fingers if we do not welcome them with food, clean water and basic healthcare. Pray for the child within your own soul, longing to be nourished and brought forth alive in your life. We are bearers of the Word to a troubled world desperate for good news and a fresh start.

Pat Marrin's e-mail addres is Celebration, NCR's sister publication, is an ecumenical worship resource. For a preview, follow this link: Celebration.

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